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Balestrand, Hans Dahl - Description of the Painting



Balestrand - Hans Dahl


This painting by the Norwegian master is the one where he proved himself to be an excellent colorist, since here the color combinations are more harmonious in their diversity, than in any other of his works.

The picture shows the ordinary day of Norwegian workers. They are engaged in the transportation of the mowed fragrant hay on the small sailing boat. They have to get there by water due to the long and narrow bays with the rocky shores, separating the meadows.

This can be easily observed on the canvas – on your right hand, you will see that the bank is low and gentle, overgrown with bright and green vegetation, while on the opposite bank there is a patch of fresh greenery visible; apparently, that is where a craft with the mowed hay is heading.

The central far area of the painting is taken by the high steep rocks, with the snow-white caps of eternal snows covering their tops. The subject mountains seem grayish purple, when looked at against the background of a pale blue sky, while the warm orange and reddish reflections of the setting sun make them visually lighter and airier, depriving them of massiveness.

The warm sunny tones were also applied for depicting the light disparate clouds, making the whole composition of the picture seem even more airier. The artist applied bright colors but dosed and distributed them so accurately that they do not persistently come to the fore, but rather create a comfortable and eye-pleasing image.

The central part of the painting is a sailing boat underway with two people on board. A young girl dressed in beautiful traditional clothes, consisting of a scarlet vest, a white shirt and a dark skirt is sitting on a pile of newly cut hay. Although the viewer cannot see her face, she immediately seems familiar to anyone who conversant with other paintings by the artist, since the subject character is present on nearly all his paintings as the unchanged image symbolizing Norway.

The second person in the boat is a man sitting on the oars. He is dressed in a bright outfit, as well; the boat itself and people on board are beautifully reflected in the calm water surface of the fjord, thus adding even more depth and expressiveness to the picture.

The image of water in this painting is a good topic for a separate discussion. Silvery, mobile, and lively, it adds so much of dynamics to the picture, owing to it the special play of light, shadow, and tiny tone shades. Despite the simplicity and unpretentiousness of the composition, this work of this great master virtually sinks into the soul of every single viewer looking at it.
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